The personal financial impact of 9/11

A U.S. flag and sign on the side of the Freedom Tower at the site of the World Trade Center in New York.

Troy Rutman.

Kristin Kretschmer with husband Kurt.

Kevin Jarrett.

Joyce Ng.

Bob Moon: If you think about it -- and who hasn't this week -- it's really not an exaggeration to say that 9/11 has changed the way we live. It certainly changed how millions of us travel, how businesses go about doing business. And it turns out, it's changed a lot of us for the better.

Many of our listeners wrote in to tell us how September 11th affected things like their relationship with work, with money and the financial choices they've made since.


Joyce Ng: My name is Joyce Ng and on September 11th I was at the Marriott Hotel, which was part of the World Trade Center complex. When you are so close to death, you think about what will happen if you're gone. 'Cause my husband now and I thought about that and since having a child now, we did set up life insurance and also having a will, in case anything does happen that she's well-prepared and financially prepared.

I'm the child of immigrant parents and my grandparents always saved every penny. I'm a good saver, but after September 11th, I spent more money than I did before, because I wanted to enjoy doing things that I loved. I was a consultant before and I traveled frequently on business. So right now, I'm no longer in consulting. I still work in business, where I don't have to be away from my family.

Troy Rutman: My name is Troy Rutman and I live in Phoenix, Ariz. On 9/11, I was in New York City, on my way to work. I was working as a head of business development for an online marketing agency. And when the actual first impact happened, I was on the train, but when I walked into the lobby of my office building, I saw the fire that had already started burning.

And I think it was such a shock to everyone's system that as the days and weeks started to mount -- and the shockwaves it sent through the economy became clear -- that everyone started to feel like, "Whoa, what does this mean for my future?" My immediate reaction was "I need to get out of here," it just was very dark, I had lost a childhood friend who had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and it really changed my relationship to New York. My partner and I moved down to Puerto Rico for about six months after that and we tried our hand at opening a bed and breakfast in a very rural part of the island. It was an escape. I mean, I just woke up and fed the chickens and went to try to build a business from scratch that could give me a livelihood in which I wasn't dependent upon anyone else.

And although I would like to think that it made me live for the moment a little bit more, I also started to realize that 9/11 did not do away with long-term planning. I still had to save, I still had to figure out my career track and I still had to sort of get back on that horse and plan my future.

Kristin Kretschmer: My name is Kristin Kretschmer. My husband was working at American Eagle when 9/11 happened. He was the first pilot to leave Logan after 9/11. American Eagle, the months that followed, they began furloughing their pilots and my husband was downgraded back to first officer, which essentially cut his pay in half. We have just started to be able to get back to the path that we thought was going to happen back in 2001.

Kevin Jarrett: My name's Kevin Jarrett. And on September 11th, I was on the 13th floor of the Aramark Tower in Philadelphia, working with my colleagues. I was making $100,000 a year and I had always dreamed of being a teacher. I had wanted to be a teacher when I had graduated or when I was in undergrad. And my dad told me that it wouldn't work because I'd never be able to feed my family. So like a good son, I went off and got my degree in business. Ultimately, got my MBA. We were living on half of my salary, and I did the math and it finally occurred to me that "Wait a minute, if we're living on $50,000 a year and a teaching job pays $35,000, that's only a $15,000 delta to make it work." And that night I got home, I said, "Look honey, I want to do this." And she looked at me and said, "OK."

9/11 for me was the catalyst for a period of introspection over months. Why do something that is not what you absolutely love to do? And today, I'm blessed. I'm surrounded by the two things I love most in life -- and that's kids and technology. I couldn't be happier.


Moon: The voices of Joyce Ng, Troy Rutman, Kristin Kretschmer, and Kevin Jarrett. Hear more post-9/11 reflections. And share your story about how 9/11 changed your life with our Public Insight Network: Be a source and share your insights.

Troy Rutman.

Kristin Kretschmer with husband Kurt.

Kevin Jarrett.

Joyce Ng.

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